KAMPALA HILTON MORE EMPTY PROMISES OR FOR REAL THIS TIME
Officials of the AYA Group have yesterday announced that the hotel, due for completion by October 2007 when the Commonwealth Summit was held in Kampala, would now finally open its doors in March 2013.
Full mouthed statements, often bordering the grotesque if not outright incompetent, had at the time of breaking ground, and over the years, purported to finish a floor a week, before it became obvious for Kampalas hospitality industry observers that the developers lacked the capacity to do anything of the sort. Subsequent opening announcements needless to say also came and went, made worse when wrangles with lawyers and issues with other AYA Group companies appeared in the local media.
At one stage the hotel was reportedly put up for sale, at which stage according to some sources government let it be known that this was NOT to happen, as the land was given to the Hamid brothers for literally free, which would have earned them a hefty windfall but left government once again trailing in the wake of hot air.
Subsequently the interested parties pulled away from the deal leaving work at the hotel to meander along at snails pace.
Although a delegation from Hilton was reportedly in Uganda a few months ago, staying at Kampalas best, the Kampala Serena Hotel and getting a taste of what superior hospitality quality can be like in Uganda, no confirmation could be received from Hilton if indeed they are still interested to manage the property or if perhaps another global hotel group may enter the market, which since the discovery of oil in the Albertine Graben has suddenly regained sharp momentum.
New entries in the wider region were Hyatt, taking over the management of a top hotel from Kempinksi, which is now set to open a property in Nairobi, Marriott, due to open a brand new hotel and conference centre in the heart of Kigali while other global groups have reportedly been sniffing around in Nairobi and other regional capitals with the aim to assess market potential.
Hilton is represented in the region in Nairobi and Addis Ababa, but has sold their Taita Hills and Salt Lick Lodges some time ago to Pollmans Tours of Kenya these two lodges are now managed by Sarova Hotels and may therefore indeed wish to get a wider footprint with a presence in Kampala. There, the building of the proposed InterContinental Hotel at the site of what was supposed to become hotel under the Gulf based Kingdom Hotels, is progressing well though no official opening date has yet been set, wisely one should say considering the minefield of public spats and arguments the Aya Group went through when their repeatedly given new dates were all missed by extremely wide margins. Time will therefore be the only one to tell if the latest date of March 2013 will indeed hold water and the hotel finally be completed, or if another twist in the tail of this long standing comedy is yet in store for us all.
Watch this space for regular updates from East Africas hospitality sector.